[-empyre-] concerning Ayotzinapa, and more Antigone's bones
Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Sun Nov 9 05:37:52 EST 2014
[for those of you who cannot access mexican news channels or new york times, here the report on the Ayotzinapa case, which is a gruesome and chilling narrative)
Americas |NYT Now
Drug Gang Killed Students, Mexican Law Official Says
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLDNOV. 7, 2014
MEXICO CITY — Members of a drug gang arrested in the investigation into the disappearance of 43 college students in September told investigators that they had killed the students and burned their bodies in a pyre of tires and branches, the attorney general announced Friday.
The attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, said the suspects had led investigators to fractured, incinerated remains, along a river, that would be tested for identification at a laboratory in Austria.
Mr. Murillo Karam stopped short of saying the case was resolved, pending results from the lab at the University of Innsbruck, which specializes in analyzing remains that are hard to identify. The mass murders would be among the worst in several years of violence fueled by organized crime.
His hourlong news conference, however, delivered in somber tones, sent the strongest signal yet that the government’s working theory is that the students, after an attack by corrupt police officers on Sept. 26 that left six people dead, were turned over to criminals who killed them. The conference included several video clips of the suspects’ interrogation and photographs of ashes, teeth and pieces of bone.
“The statements and information that we have gotten unfortunately points to the murder of a large number of people,” Mr. Murillo Karam said, shortly after delivering the news privately to family members who had heaped scorn on the government for its inability to find the students.
In a country with a history of coerced confessions and staged arrests, the relatives reacted with disbelief and anger, some accusing President Enrique Peña Nieto of trying to conclude the case before his planned trip to Asia this weekend, which they urged him to cancel. Some insisted that the students were still alive and being held captive; others seemed worn down by an investigation of fits and starts, of promising leads that went nowhere, of the excavation of mass graves that turned out not to contain the remains of their loved ones.
“I don’t even know what to think anymore,” said Ernestina Jacinto, the mother of Israel Jacinto, 19, a missing student. “We are just waiting to have more information.”
The case has riveted Mexico for weeks, provoking large demonstrations, unmasking the depth of local corruption and threatening to overwhelm the agenda of Mr. Peña Nieto, who has made economic advancement his administration’s centerpiece and has tried to persuade outside investors that the country has moved past its worst violence.
He was to leave on Sunday for a weeklong trip to China and Australia that was already marred when he was forced to cancel a $3.7 billion contract to a Chinese company to build a high-speed rail line amid opposition complaints that the bidding was not transparent and favored Mexican partners close to Mr. Peña Nieto. But he called the missing students his top priority.
They disappeared on Sept. 26, during the night of violence in Iguala, 120 miles south of Mexico City, at the hands of the police. Among the six dead were three students.
The students, from a rural teachers college with a history of provocative protests and social agitation, had come to Iguala to collect money and steal buses for transportation to a demonstration.
The mayor of the town, who has been arrested and is accused of having close ties to the gang, feared that the students would disrupt a speech by his politically ambitious wife, who the authorities say also has gang ties, and ordered the police to stop them, the authorities have said. Mr. Murillo Karam said the police rounded them up and turned them over to the gang with whom the police often worked.
Three people recently arrested told investigators in detail how over several hours the students were loaded into trucks and killed, and, at a garbage dump in Cocula, near Iguala, their bodies were then burned in a huge fire of tires and branches lit with gasoline and diesel fuel, the attorney general said. The fire burned from midnight on Sept. 26 until the following afternoon. It was unclear how the young men were killed, but witnesses said at least 15 died from asphyxiation in the back of a truck.
The men who disposed of the bodies burned their own clothes to help erase any trace of the crime, Mr. Murillo Karam said.
The witnesses led the authorities to a spot along a river where bags containing ashes and bone fragments — teeth so charred they turned to powder when touched — were found. Mr. Murillo Karam gave no timeline to identify the remains.
So far, 72 people have been arrested, he said, in what he called one of Mexico’s largest criminal investigations ever.
A weekslong search did reveal a series of clandestine mass graves with the remains of at least 38 bodies that are not the students’, he said. Some of the remains have been identified as being those of four of the people believed to have been killed by the Iguala police.
Human rights workers have criticized the investigation from the start, faulting federal authorities for initially keeping a distance from the case and leaving much of the forensic work to ill-equipped state authorities. It took 10 days for federal authorities to take over the case and begin their investigation, precious time lost, in the view of independent observers.
“He reacted late and poorly,” José Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas for Human Rights Watch, said of Mr. Peña Nieto on Thursday after meeting prosecutors.
“The rule of Mexico is impunity,” he said. “It is not a nation of laws.”
But Mr. Peña Nieto, speaking at a business conference, promised to capture everybody behind the crime. “To the parents of the disappeared young men, and to society at large, I assure you we will not give up until justice is done,” he said.
The students attended the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos in Ayotzinapa, about 70 miles north of Acapulco. The college encourages students to engage in social protest.
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